End of an era: Apple's chief designer Jony Ive leaving to form independent company

Jony Ive (left) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California..
Jony Ive (left) and Apple CEO Tim Cook inspect the iPhone XR during an Apple special event at the Steve Jobs Theatre in Cupertino, California..PHOTO: AFP
Jony Ive (left) uses an iPad to have an augmented reality view of the frame of the new Mac Pro as Apple senior vice-president of hardware engineering Dan Riccio looks on during the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California.
Jony Ive (left) uses an iPad to have an augmented reality view of the frame of the new Mac Pro as Apple senior vice-president of hardware engineering Dan Riccio looks on during the 2019 Apple Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose, California. PHOTO: AFP

SAN FRANCISCO (BLOOMBERG) - Apple's chief designer Jony Ive is leaving after decades at the iPhone maker to form an independent company - with Apple as one of its primary clients.

Ive is responsible for the look of the company's most iconic products, including the iPhone.

LoveFrom, his new firm, will continue to work with Apple on projects, he said in an interview with the Financial Times.

"Jony is a singular figure in the design world and his role in Apple's revival cannot be overstated, from 1998's groundbreaking iMac to the iPhone and the unprecedented ambition of Apple Park," chief executive officer Tim Cook said in a statement.

"Apple will continue to benefit from Jony's talents by working directly with him on exclusive projects, and through the ongoing work of the brilliant and passionate design team he has built."

Apple shares slipped about 1 per cent in extended trading.

The stock closed at US$199.74 in New York.

Ive will be replaced by existing Apple designers.

Evans Hankey, vice-president of industrial design, and Alan Dye, vice-president of human interface design, will report to Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, the company said.

Dye and Hankey have played key leadership roles on Apple's design team for many years.

They took over day-to-day management of the team when Ive stepped away to focus on the creation of company's new headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Williams has led the development of Apple Watch since its inception and will spend more of his time working with the design team in their studio, the company added.

Ive began leading Apple's design team in 1996, before Apple co-founder Steve Jobs returned to the company as it was on the brink of bankruptcy.

Over the past two decades, Ive's designs, from the original iMac desktop computer in 1998 to the first iPod in 2001 and the iPad in 2010, have been a significant factor in Apple's growth.

In 2012, a year after becoming CEO, Cook put Ive in charge of software design as well.